happy |ˈhapē| adjective ( happier , happiest ) 1 feeling or showing pleasure or contentment

She stops me while I am breathing in the first steps of morning. Aftertaste of coffee and cold on my tongue. Asks me, “Are you happy?”

I hate this word just like I’ve grown to hate the words Facebook and gluten-free and No offense, but

Even so, I do not hesitate to answer, “No, I’m not.”

It felt refreshing to be asked this question, especially when she waited to hear what I had to say.

Especially when she confessed that she wasn’t either.

Especially when we stood inside each other’s words of fear, hopelessness and loss.

I tell my students that it’s important to talk to strangers because once you share words, then the strange is gone. And invisible is seenAnd you start to recognize the similarities in each other.

I’ve recently located a drawer inside my body that has torn open. Warped and wooden and wild, this drawer is. Loaded up with anger.

I’ve run out of pillows to scream into. I don’t own any punching bags beyond this piece of paper I keep jabbing with my gut. I don’t know how to diffuse it.

I look up synonyms for happy because I just can’t commit to that word: jolly, untroubled, blithe, chirpy, on air, pleased, tickled [pink].

After there were no words left, she hugged me. I inhaled her scent of essential oils: jasmine, frankincense, myrrh mixing with my patchouli and caffeine. I wore her smell on my dry, dry skin all day.

I’d settle on feeling okay, these days. And sometimes I do. I may never get to happy or elated or even beatific. But as long as you stick around to hear my answer, I don’t mind you asking me if I am.

a different kind of high

My breath is held captive by my ribcage, caught up inside the complication of my neck and even my lungs are gasping for some sort of rescue. Do not ask me to clap or lean forward. There is music playing but for once I practice stillness. Down below are drunk bodies, heavy bellies, sports fans fondling their partners just to get noticed on a giant projection screen. I am clutching my limbs, holding on to the one beside me understands my fear of heights well enough without having to ask why I am wincing.

I feel like the haunt above clouds which nap above rooftops. I feel high enough to converse with religion, if I were inclined to believe in such a thing. I feel like I can tell you what brand of weather will arrive next: this is how high up I am.

Far down below are men wearing tall bones and sweatbands on wrists and foreheads. They are agile and seductively graceful as they press callused fingertips against leather/rubber/synthetic wrapped sphere. This is called a dribble.

As I am practicing how not to be frightened from my fear of these heights, I become mesmerized by how many times they take a break.

Time Out: Bring out the “dancers” or women wearing very little spandex and bright red smiles and carmelized hair.

Time Out: Commercial break. Beer run. Refill of overpriced nachos or greatest hits compilation of meat pressed into a bun.

She asks me if I know the rules and I tell her yes, even though I don’t. But I also don’t fully understand how to engage in this odd twenty-four (continuous) game of life, yet I seem to be an active player.

What keeps me distracted from the extreme height of our seats is the woman behind me wearing netted stockings and a piercingly inquisitive voice. She is asking her boyfriend/brother/friend/cousin questions about the point system and why they rotate players. I overhear her say to him, “I don’t know what you just said, but I laughed.”

At the end of the evening I want to thank her for inadvertently distracting me from my fear. I want to thank the handsome human beside me acting as my seatbelt.

I used to not be able to travel up stairs with spaces in between them. I will never skydive. And as a child, I fainted inside a hot air balloon. This fear is bullying, but slowly I’ve worked out ways to move through it.

Kind of like life, I guess.

you are orange like that sunrise like the vitamins I forget to take

And when eyes first begin to arrive into a Thursday, there is recognition of love in the sky. Who made the sun loose enough to drip color around the clouds like that? That orange makes me forget who I am makes me forget I am headache’d and weary makes me forget to remember.

A beautiful Human/ Dancer/ Writer tells me to prepare for love. We are all in need of it about this time, she says. I forget to tell her to look up because that is where I find the best warmth and when I am in worry, up there is where I watch movies in the cumulo-nimbus.

But. Even amidst this sunrise, I am fearing. When I am trapped below ground in an attempt to go to work or go to go to, I panic about what haunts the ones traveling with me. What is their weapon? Is it just their newspaper? Is it their sleep? My breaths will not protect me from anything harsher than that.

In a diner on an evening when I treat myself to a supper of vegetable soup and broccoli rabe, I look around. How angry are these eaters and can they live inside their rage without action? Should I rush my swallows?

How safe are we really from each other from ourselves from the ones who forget to look up at that orange at that beauty-full sun.

I used to take several vitamins, pushed on me by a love very similar to that sky: vast, illuminating, hard to reach. Then the day would begin and I would forget. So I popped bites full of ingredients instead of capsules. I digested plates full of food instead of pills full on the alphabet. If I kept swallowing those letters, would I be like that sky? Would I be orange? Would I be strength?

I have come to realize that almost everyday, I wear a vest. Black. Old. Used. Some smaller than others. Some torn. One newly mended. I have come to realize these vests are my armor. Perhaps they can protect me from what I can not prevent. From the tempers of earth’s inhabitants.

We cannot all live in the sky. The sun has boundary issues and likes to feel like the only one. But we can shine down here too. And we can replace bullets with poems, slam them into eardrums without blood shed, and instead, awaken minds. And let’s not wait for tantrums to explode into buildings full of people full of life full of hope. There is too much death down here. So look up. Be mindful of that beating heart in the sky. Go blind for awhile. Blink the shadows of its heat against your face. Slow down. There is enough beauty up there. Now lets start making some down here. We are all in need of it about this time.